A FIT and firing Keith Treacy can have the X-Factor for Burnley, says manager Sean Dyche.
But after making his first appearance since August, the Clarets boss warned the winger must keep up the hard graft behind the scenes before fully working his way back into the first team frame.
Treacy has had plenty of ground to make up after being frozen out by Eddie Howe.
The former Burnley boss made the Republic of Ireland international one of his first summer signings in 2011, but a succession of poor performances resulted in the 23-year-old ending the campaign on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.
The club was even prepared to listen to offers for Treacy a year after spending around £1million to sign him from Preston North End, after he reported back for pre-season overweight and out of shape.
But the Dubliner was provided with a clean slate by Burnley’s mid-season managerial change and, after knuckling down, made his first steps to plotting his return to the side through a late cameo against Watford on Saturday.
Dyche has told him, howeverthere is still work to do.
“Keith has been a little project for us since we got here. He’s had his ups and downs, but everyone gets a chance,” said the Clarets boss.
“I take opinion and information but eventually I form my own opinions based on what I see. He’s worked very hard since we’ve been here.
“He has done enough over the last five weeks to get himself into a shape that’s appropriate.
“He’s in shape now, and if he aligns himself clearly with our expectations – and his own – we’ve got a hell of a player.
“People have a life outside out football life and that’s been a challenge for him at times.
“He is putting things right and in place nicely at the moment.
“Against Watford we felt it was time he had a little glimpse of it, a little taste of it, and we saw with that pass to Dean Marney what he can offer.
“Certain players are X-factor players and he has that. You can’t define how players do certain things but they do them.”
Dyche added that Treacy’s progress would be assisted by support from the stands, after revealing he had heard negative comments aimed at the wide man, who began his career at rivals Blackburn Rovers.
“I don’t think comments about being ex-Blackburn are useful because he is a Burnley player,” said the Clarets boss.
“We want him to relax knowing people are behind him, and for people to believe in him.”
Dyche believes Treacy’s instinct to improve will the be most crucial ingredient on the road to his return.
“There’s a resolve in people in general, but certainly in footballers,” he said.
Meanwhile, new signing Dane Richards has arrived at Turf Moor from MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps.
The winger is not eligible to play until the transfer window opens on January 1, but has reported to the club early to complete paperwork and other formalities and be introduced to the squad.